The spark for The Safe List came from two sources:

First, I enjoy stories that feature someone who is a celebrity falling in love with someone who is not. Even those of super-high status are human after all. The special magic of love can cross the lines of popularity and class, and it’s fascinating to see how two people from different worlds can make a relationship work. Here are the trailers for two of my favorite movies, which happen to follow that theme:

Below: Trailer for “The American President” (Annette Bening, Michael Douglas)

Below: Trailer for “Knotting Hill” (Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant)

Second, I used to listen to a lot of Vocaloid music (songs created with singing synthesizer computer programs), and in August of 2014 I rediscovered Kiseragi Attention, sung by a Vocaloid program named “IA” (pronounced “EE-ah”). The song and the anime-esque video that go with it talk of a young blonde pop star who tires of all the attention she is getting and questions the reasons for her popularity. She goes out on her own, hoping to enjoy the day like a normal person, only to be recognized when the wind blows the hood off her jacket. After escaping a chase by dozens of fans, she makes contact with a small group of teens who accept her as one of their own. They become fast friends and she’s able to return to her world with a new perspective.

Kiseragi Attention is sung in Japanese. This light-hearted video would form the basis for a suspenseful and explicit story.

Below: “Kiseragi Attention” (Music: Jin, Video: Wannyanpuu, Vocals: IA, English Translation: vgperson)

I was looking for ideas for my first novel and as I watched the video, I envisioned a chance encounter between an ordinary guy and a young female pop star. There is instant attraction between them, but thanks to her history, she is mistrustful of men who get too close or too friendly. After years of being hounded and harassed, she has turned away from men of her status, but he wins her confidence (and her  heart) because he’s sensitive to her needs and to the fear that she has been harboring for years. The irony of the story would be that he questions his own fitness for her – because of her status and his.

I started with the skeleton of a storyline and began writing key scenes in September 2014. For the characters, I wanted a female name that started with “K” and a male name that started with “L”. Kalynn and Layne came up early and stuck throughout the process. The Safe List began as a simple teen romance, but as the months progressed, the characters got older and the plot evolved until I ended up with a mature romantic suspense novel.

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